Originally written when I heard the news that Dr Henry Snyder had passed away, one year ago on February 29, 2016, it is being republished here. It doesn’t say enough, but hopefully it relays my own appreciation for an incredible man:
You know them. Heck, you may BE one….one of those forces of nature who are not buffeted by the winds of change, but one who powers those winds with their own sheer will. I am not one. But I recognize them, and am drawn to them like a moth to flame. We lost one recently. And I can’t stop weeping for the force of nature, gone. I’ll leave it to others to share Henry Snyder's extensive credentials and measures of influence. After all, he has a wikipedia page that lists amazing things about which I had no idea and were seemingly just another day at the office for this man. For genealogists, especially those with family in/from California, you can rest assured this force helped you, by driving a site of digitized newspapers from the Golden State. He came from newspaper folk. And he infected everyone around him with the same insatiable curiosity and unwillingness to take “no” for an answer that you’d expect from the greatest journalists. In my sliver of time in the eddies around him, he reminded me of my own voice. He conspired with me to push our world forward. And he told stories. He told so many stories. When he started with “Well, it seems to me…” we all knew we were in for it. For one year, I was tasked as timekeeper for the monthly gathering of board members. I was terrible at it. I simply couldn’t cut this man off. How do you tell a man literally twice your age, to “wrap it up” when he was sharing in every breath not just the what, but the how and why? It wasn’t about the destination. Well, it seems to me he was sharing the story of the journey. Yes, he rambled here and there, like the wind meandering through the trees, like the force of nature he was. In those ramblings, he shared such heart and wisdom. Such joy. Such passion. I weep today for the force we’ve lost. When you speak of the elders gone, you might say, as many have, “he lived a good life.” Henry Snyder did. He seemed to live MANY good lives, and for a while, one of those lives was as a board member and volunteer at California Genealogical Society with me and many others. Each one of us will always be richer for the time he shared there.